Reality series on Dearborn Muslims ends

MARCH 8, 2012 AT 1:00 AM

Reality series on Dearborn Muslims ends

  • BY URSULA WATSON 
  • THE DETROIT NEWS 

    TLC’s reality TV show “All-American Muslim” provided viewers with an intimate look at the lives of five hard-working Dearborn families. But the network announced Wednesday that the show will not be back for a second season.

    Poor ratings are the main reason for its cancellation, TLC said. Its Nov. 13 premiere drew 1.74 million viewers but ratings soon declined with the Dec. 11 episode nabbing only 908,000 viewers.

    Muslim civil rights activist Dawud Walid, executive director of CAIR Michigan, said although “All-American Muslim” only aired for one season, it started a “dialogue and discussion” in certain segments of society about Muslims. “It’s unfortunate there was a coordinated campaign which led to backlash about the show,” Walid said. “I don’t know how much that campaign played a role in ratings or lack of ratings for the show.”

    Walid added that the “bigoted backlash” directed at the show highlights the need for such programming.

    Hardware chain Lowe’s, under pressure from conservative Christian group Florida Family Association, pulled its advertising in December. And there were less-than-glowing reviews, including one from an executive from the travel site Kayak.com, which also stopped advertising on the show, claiming TLC wasn’t upfront about the program‘s nature and said “the show sucked.”

    Despite low ratings and the national controversy that swirled around the series, “All-American Muslim” was a groundbreaking offering.

    “It saddens me that it isn’t being renewed,” says series participant Suehaila Amen. “But it did exactly what it intended to do. It highlighted the average lives of average people.”

    She said “All-American Muslim” changed the perceptions of some who harbored negative perceptions of Islam. “On my Facebook fan page, people would tell me how they once hated Muslims but the show helped to open their eyes. This was something that needed to be done.”

    Nina Bazzy-Aliahmad, who also appeared on the TLC program, agreed.

    “I feel blessed that I appeared on such a project,” she said. “I have no regrets. I met a lot of wonderful people from different religions and backgrounds that praised the show.”

    Activist Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said “All-American Muslim” brought a great deal of value to the small screen.

    “It was an interesting show that opened the eyes of many fellow Americans,” he said. “The show was not political at all. It was like any other reality show. But people made vicious attacks against the show simply because it mentioned Islam. There are people who are ultra-sensitive about anything connected to Islam.”

    Still, Hamad said TLC’s decision to cancel “All-American Muslim” seems like a business decision and not a victory for those who attacked the show. “TLC has the right to continue a show or not continue a show,” he said.

    While the eight-episode season run concluded in early January, the show is still on the air abroad, Amen said.

    “They are airing the show in the Middle East, in Lebanon now,” Amen said. “I had friends calling me. It is dubbed in Arabic. It has crossed geographical boundaries. Muslims are viewing it from all over the world.”

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